What does it mean to believe?

 

John 6:47 (NASB) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.

One of the definitions of “belief” is trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

Trust, faith and confidence go beyond merely believing something is true. These words imply leaning on that truth.

Do you lean on Jesus as the Christ, as your Lord? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the Biblical meaning of Lord as: a person having power and authority over others. Does Jesus have power and authority over you?

Authority is defined this way: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. We are given guidelines in the Bible (orders) of how to live. But I want to talk to you today about making decisions — with Jesus as the authority.

One of my favorite preachers is Charles Stanley. He is not everyone’s cup of tea. He is a calm mannered, Bible preacher (on the air for 40+ years) that still wears suits when he is in front of people, and mostly stays behind the pulpit/table ( and he is now pushing his 90s). But because he is a straight forward Bible preacher and backs up the word in context, I can trust his teaching. 

In one of his sermons, well maybe a couple actually, he has mentioned that he runs all  his decisions by the Lord. He does not make a move until he is sure he has heard the direction he should go in. 

Prov. 3: 5 – 6
[5] Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [6] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

It’s a Biblical principle. But do you live by it? Do I? No, I do not unfortunately, and this leads to some poor decisions. Some decisions turn out just fine– but I later discover that had I made a different choice– things could have been even better for all concerned not just for myself.

This of course can be taken too far. Like the lady or man who stands in front of their wardrobe and asks God which outfit to wear that day. They wait for an intuitive response to be led by.  This is not what I am talking about when I say every decision. 

Here are some questions that seem obvious to consider asking for guidance on:
Should I date this person?
Is this the right time to have kids?
Is this the church You would have me stay in?
Are there friends I need to let go of?
Should I make this purchase?

Those are simple yes or no questions. I’m sure you can add a lot more to that list. What kinds of decision have you been making in the last year? Big and small.

What about other guidance-
How much should I give to my church as offering above my tithe?
Which job offer should I accept?
How should I handle my teenager?
What would you have me say to “this person” in my life?

Often times, we just jump in and do what we think is right. We go with our gut, we go with our first response, we weigh the pros and cons. Other times, we ask others for their opinions. We read a book, call a friend, ask our spouse, google something, watch a YouTube video, etc.  

I do all these things. I simply do not take my decisions, many times, to the Lord of my life. But if He is truly LORD of my life, then, He is the authority that should be involved in guiding my choices.

So how do we hear from the Lord?

First we read and get well acquainted with His Word. Many guidelines in the Bible can be applied to what we are up against. The Bible does not tell us what to do specifically in our modern day problems. But there are many guidelines that can be applied. If we know the Word, then we know how God wants us to live our lives. That should influence all our choices.

Next, during prayer and meditation, we take our questions and desires to Jesus and lay them at His feet. We listen for that still small voice. Maybe it’s an impression that aligns with the Word of God. Maybe it is a sense of dread when we consider the wrong avenue and a sense of peace when we are on the right path. Maybe a scripture passage comes to mind and when we look it up– it directly gives us principles to guide us. 

(Do not open the Bible randomly, letting your eyes land somewhere and think that is God. AND do not do this over and over until you get the answer you want. Either we want God’s input, or we want God to back up our desires giving us approval in the way we want things to go.)

Here is an example:
How should I approach my teenager? He / or she is doing xyz. I am upset and do not know what to do.

Perhaps there are more, but let’s start with 3 possible responses from God…and each are different:
* Discipline him / her more.
* Allow them more freedom.
* Approach her / him with kindness, gentleness, patience and self-control on your part.

Do you see how God’s input might lead you in 3 different directions. How do you know which choice is best? Sure, you can “do the best you can”- at any given moment with the knowledge you have, or what appears to be happening. But wouldn’t the best decision be based on where God leads you since He alone knows the complete situation and the best outcome?

I recently was doing my son a favor.
He was criticizing how I was carrying out my effort. At first I got defensive… “How dare he! He is being controlling when he could do this for himself!”

I started to pray for him.
I prayed that HE have patience and kindness in his heart towards people (and at that moment –me in specific).  I prayed that he would be happy.

Suddenly  I felt convicted.
I was impressed with the third option listed above in the example. It was ME that needed to change. I was to have patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. I was to be in charge of myself and my response

It would be easy to say my son was just being ungrateful when I was doing something he could have handled. I could have just stopped and let him / made him, do it for himself.  I was put off by his comments, and was defensive in my heart and self righteous. But the Holy Spirit took me in a whole different direction than what would have been okay to do as a parent in the moment by reasonable parenting standards and boundaries. It was an eye opener and caught me off guard. It was not what I expected at all. AND it was not how I wanted God to help me out.

I think that sometimes, I do not ask God’s opinion because I do not actually want to hear it. He might have me do something I do not want to do. I don’t want to risk that. I don’t want to hear– what I don’t want to hear (especially from God, whom I am supposed to follow). Maybe if I (do not hear about it from God) just make the decision that seems best– it will turn out ok. I have logic and reason. I can ask for advice (over and over until someone says something I want to hear that backs me up).

Ever been there? I bet you have at some point.

The basics of Christianity is that we believe (to be true) that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and that he died and rose for our sins. Through this we have been reconciled to God himself and restored to full relationship without sin in the way.

But we are called to more than that. The Bible is clear there are things we cannot do. If we do them we will not inherit eternal life. The Bible is also clear about how we should behave as believers…what the standards for our lives should be. It is out of our joy at being restored and forgiven that we would naturally want to live according to these precepts. They are our guidelines in everything. We do our best to live this way. We ask for help with it from God. We ask for forgiveness as we (inevitably) fall short.

Taking my own blog post to heart– I need to change my ways of making decisions. I need to surrender to Christ (another tenant of our faith). It seems like life would be easier just making the decisions myself. It sure goes a lot quicker. I am slow to sit still and clear my thoughts to hear from God. Sure I meditate but half the time I am telling my mind to be quiet and trying to focus on listening.

But in the end, which is easier– a decision based on limited knowledge or a decision based on direction from the One who knows all the details and outcomes?

Until Next Time~
Blessings, Kate

Author: Kate Hufstetler

Former Pastor and Life Coach now working to help women rebuild their lives. I'm a southern California gal living in Kentucky. When I am not writing, I can be found reading, volunteering, attending church functions, or watching my wonderful son play Overwatch and stream on Twitch.tv. I also enjoy crocheting, star gazing and drives going nowhere just to get out and explore. If I could do one thing throwing caution to the wind...I would go to Ramallah and interview women there to compile a book about what life is like living in Palestine these days. What would you do? Drop me a line.

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